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Chrome

Old article. Chrome happily exists almost everywhere now.

I am so ticked off about Google Chrome that I almost wasn't going to even mention it here. Why am I ticked? Well, it's bad enough that there is currently only a Windows version, but that snub becomes even more insulting when you realize that Chrome was built with Apple's Webkit!

Arrgh. There's a place you can sign up to be notified when and if they complete their other versions; and apparently there is source code available (see Ars Technica's post) that might work for Linux et al., but dammit I just want to play with it, not struggle with source. Comments at that article indicate it hasn't been so bad - but if that's true, why doesn't Google just provide a dmg and an rpm? 'Cause it ain't near ready, that's why! As they said at Build Instructions (Mac OS X) (link dead, sorry) :


Right now, the Mac build is a work in progress that is much closer to the start than the finish. No application that renders web pages is generated at the end of these instructions!

The Linux notes say much the same thing:


There is no working Chromium-based browser on Linux. Although many Chromium submodules build under Linux and a few unit tests pass, all that runs is a command-line "all tests pass" executable.

Oh well. They'll get there eventually. So what's important about Chrome? Oh, nothing much: it's just another nail in Microsoft's coffin..

First of all, Google did something very smart: they run tabs as separate proceses. Not only that, but they run plugins that way too. The takeaway there is that a screwed up site or suddenly insane plugin won't crash anything else. This will also stop memory from being sucked away page by page..

Second, Chrome has Google Gears built in and if you save a Google App like Gmail or Google Docs to your Desktop as an "Application Shortcut" (click on the "Control the Current Page" icon) that shortcut will launch looking like an application rather than a browser.. and as Gears can give it local storage, well, it is.

There's other stuff: more powerful Javascript for one. Google has a cute Comic Book that explains all that and more.

Neat, and scary if you are a large multinational corporation accustomed to having an operating system monopoly. I was talking to a customer yesterday who was fretting over what to buy to replace their wheezing old accounting app. "We don't want to buy something where the company will be out of business in ten years!", she lamented. I responded that ANYONE can be out of business ten years from now - even Microsoft. She raised her eyebrows (crazy Unix/Mac guy!), but it's true, and Google Chrome is a hint as to why.

Take a look at Chrome (or at least read the comic book!). Yeah, it will probably be a little buggy now, and yeah, we want the Mac and Linux versions, but this IS our future, or at least a peek at it. That's fairly certain.


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© Anthony Lawrence







Fri Sep 12 20:51:02 2008: 4547   drag


""I was talking to a customer yesterday who was fretting over what to buy to replace their wheezing old accounting app. "We don't want to buy something where the company will be out of business in ten years!", she lamented. I responded that ANYONE can be out of business ten years from now - even Microsoft. ""

Two points:

A. This is the nice thing about open source software. If the company backing the software was to take a crap and all development and support stopped then having the source code should be quite valuable for trying to make a escape from that application. By using the source code any decent programmer should be able to have some sort of conversion tool built pretty quickly to help you migrate away. And if the application is popular enough then it could fork and live on it's own. Sort of like Mozilla/firefox and Netscape.

B. Accounting software? Perfect candidate for a web-based application. :) I would seriously be looking into that if I were your client.

---------------------------------------------------------

Looks like the Javascript (or more accurately ECMAScript* ) is possibly what is going to kill much of desktop programming. It's a lovely architecture if its well designed. The data store can be abstracted over a cluster. The majority of the processing occurs at the 'end node' rather then server-side so your following the classic approach of achieving massive scalability.

And if it's fast, if it's very very fast. Then that is great. Other browsers are not resting on their laurels either.. Firefox's new Javascript engine "SpiderMonkey" is ever bit as fast, or faster, then Google's Chrome stuff. Webkit's 'Sunspider' engine is suppose to be very fast, too.

Looks like Microsoft is indeed a bit worried.**

* (link)
** (link)



Fri Sep 12 20:59:06 2008: 4548   drag


here is some nice benchmarks of the various new javascript engines on the market:
(link)

Does a better job describing all the names, too!



Wed Apr 8 14:50:05 2009: 6058   TonyLawrence

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I'm posting this comment with Chrome downloaded from (link)



Sat Nov 14 21:27:03 2009: 7551   TonyLawrence

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I just d/l-ed a newer version from that site. Aplawrence.com is SO broken in that version - unusable.

While I was at it, I brought down the latest Opera - still a very nice browser!

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